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Govt sets record straight on fuel





GOVERNMENT has dismissed reports that fuel would be sold in foreign currency with bond notes and swipe being accepted using black market rates only as from Monday. The social media reports were dismissed as an attempt by their peddlers to cause anarchy and pessimism in the fuel sector.

The posts said fuel would now be sold in US dollars with those paying in bond notes or swipe having to pay three times the amount. "There is no Government policy allowing all petrol stations to sell fuel in USD only. Cabinet has not approved such an arrangement," said the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services in a message on Twitter yesterday. It advised fuel stations to limit the number of cars on their forecourts at any one time so as to avoid a disaster in case of a fire.

The Government said it does not have a fuel rationing system but fuel retailers have suggested limiting the amount each person can get to cater for more people.

"This is the retailers' efforts to be fair and to ensure equitable access to the commodity," Government said in the statement.

In a separate statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) also said social media reports saying diesel would be pegged at US$1,12 per litre, petrol at US$1,24 and $3,59 and $3,86 for bond/swipe prices respectively were false.

It advised members of the public to ignore the messages, which it said are clearly aimed at causing anarchy and pessimism in the fuel sector. Zera urged people to desist from panic buying and hoarding given the hazardous nature of petroleum products.

"Section 54 of the Petroleum Act (Chapter 13:22) specifically mandates Zera in consultation with the Minister of Energy and Power Development to set fuel prices in Zimbabwe. The public is advised that the regulations on fuel pricing contained in Statutory Instruments 80 of 2018, 20 and 100 of 2015 have not changed. The fuel prices are set on a weekly basis based on the above regulations and these prices are shared with all oil companies and also published on Zera website," said the authority.

"Monitoring of the regulated prices is conducted on an ongoing basis with those caught flouting the regulations being punitively fined. The public is urged to desist from panic buying and hoarding given the hazardous nature of petroleum products when stored in undesignated places. Zera and other law enforcement agencies continue to monitor the situation."

Efforts to get a comment from Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo were fruitless as he was said to be away on Government business. Acting Minister Perrance Shiri was not reachable for comment too. Government has, however, assured the public that fuel supplies will soon normalise. Dr Gumbo recently said the root cause of queues was a sudden jump in demand that the Government has since adjusted to.

"We were caught off guard by the demand that rose drastically from the normal consumption of about 2 million litres to about 4,6 million litres of diesel per day and 1 million to 3,1 million litres per day of petrol. It is on that basis that things appeared to be going bad . .and the farming season and the festive season that is upon us," he said.

Dr Gumbo said Government was doing its best to ensure that scarce forex resources are also channelled towards fuel procurement.

"We need fuel for energy but other ministries also need forex. The ministry of health, mining and other ministries also need forex. However I am positive that things are going to stabilise. Our price is quite lower than in other countries in the region so they fill up in Zimbabwe while in transit. We made a proposal to the Reserve Bank to increase our weekly forex allocation from $20 million to $35 million per week," he said.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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